Students learn importance of user data through seminar

Posted on Nov 6 2015 - 9:49am by Alice Mckelvey

With shopping websites, government agencies and student researchers scrambling to collect data from an overpopulated cyberspace, interpreting that data has become a vital skill.

The Meek School of Journalism and New Media hosted a free “Data Day” seminar Thursday in the Overby Center located in Farley Hall.
The event featured two prominent speakers and a data-gathering workshop available to the public.

Eric Schnabel, director of North American Lead at Facebook Creative Shop and Sean Callahan, senior manager of content marketing at LinkedIn, spoke on their experiences in the world of data and how “big data” shapes marketing in today’s world of social media.

“Mostly [the speakers] focused on the way what they call “big data” has changed the marketing world, and the way it’s changed people’s attitudes,” graduate student Katelyn Miller said.  “They took what I thought was one small part of marketing and made it a universal concept, which was cool.”

Schnabel and Callahan focused on how data has changed our societies in the last few decades, specifically how marketing is becoming more personalized to the individual.
Senior journalism major Katie Lovett believes the speakers provided many helpful points in understanding the world of online and social media marketing.
“A lot of people think that data is just a bunch of numbers, but they actually mean something towards companies,” Lovett said.


(Facebook’s Eric Schnabel explains the importance of data in marketing as a part of Ole Miss’ New Media Data Day. | Photo by: Alice Mckelvey)

One example was Coca-Cola’s “America is Beautiful” campaign for the 2014 Super Bowl.  Marketers at Coca-Cola contacted Schnabel’s unit at Facebook for help with their advertisement, and unique data gathered from Facebook’s database provided Coca-Cola with a basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and political views in order to use different marketing tactics to appeal to a more diverse crowd.
Large corporations like Amazon, Netflix and YouTube also use users’ web browsing history to show “suggested” websites, videos or products to expand the base for certain products.


(Sean Callahan, a senior manager with LinkedIn, speaks to students about marketing on Thursday.| Photo by: Alice Mckelvey)

Because of this, there seems to be an over-saturation of media in constant competition with each other and in turn producing more competitive content, Schnabel said.
Callahan said an impressive five billion gigabytes of new data are created every 10 minutes—the total amount of data created from the invention of the Gutenberg press up to 2003.

The hour-long workshop for the public focused on how to sort through that data and help journalists and others find the data they need to tell stories that offer greater insight into the Ole Miss campus.

Students were encouraged to live-tweet the seminars using the hashtag #OleMissDataDay for a competition prize of an Amazon gift card.
“I think the biggest thing I took away from this is that there’s a whole world of marketing out there that people maybe haven’t thought of or caught onto yet,” Miller said. “There’s just a world of possibilities out there for people like me studying IMC.”